Mushrooms are found in so many classic dishes in kitchens across the world, from swimming in creamy pasta sauces to bulking up our favorite sandwiches and salads. On their own, they have a rich, umami flavor profile that many home cooks can’t get enough of. But in other dishes, mushrooms can bring our favorite flavors to new heights. And just like they transcend the pages of nearly every kind of cookbook, you’ll find mushrooms on the menu at any time of day — from an early breakfast to a midday snack and finally, in the most delicious dinner you’ve had this week.
In addition to being downright delicious, mushrooms have earned their heart-healthy halo time and time again. All home cooks, but especially those on low-sodium diets, flock to mushrooms as they contain a compound called glutamate ribonucleotides, which lends them their flavor notes without all of the added sodium. An entire cup of mushrooms only contains 5mg of sodium, allowing you to freely reach for more indulgent add ons, like cheese, dairy, or your favorite crusty bread. Also low in calories, mushrooms are any dieter or flexitarian’s dream, as they’re rich in essential B vitamins, including folate and niacin, among others.
The best health benefit associated with mushrooms might be their ability to stand up as a true meat replacement in many of your favorite recipes. You can chop almost any mushroom (but especially portobello, cremini, porcini, and button mushrooms of course) into a finer consistency that mimics ground beef, and either replace it entirely or blend it into a smaller amount of your favorite beef dish. Plus, mushrooms can swap for meat in your favorite pasta sauces and in things like quiche and omelets at brunch. If you’re interested in eating more plant-forward recipes, mushrooms are going to be your next best friend — try them in any one of these incredibly smart meat swaps today.